Federal judge orders new sentence for man convicted in 2002 D.C. sniper attacks

Posted at 4:59 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 21:19:22-04

NORFOLK, Va. -  A federal judge in Virginia overturned the two life sentences of Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo on Friday, more than a decade after he was originally sentenced as a teenager.

US District Court Judge Raymond Jackson, in a rare move, sent Malvo's case back to state courts in Chesapeake and Spotslvania County in Virginia for resentencing.

Malvo was one of two people convicted in the sniper attacks in the Washington, DC, region that killed 10 people in October 2002.

Malvo argued in a federal petition that his sentences didn't align with current Supreme Court case law that judges must follow when sentencing juveniles.

The relevant case law, concerning the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and usual punishment, came down after Malvo was originally sentenced.

Jackson agreed with Malvo, finding Friday that he had unknowingly given up his Eighth Amendment rights. The 25-page ruling states in part, "There is no evidence in the record to suggest that petitioner was aware of the existence of this right, much less that he intended to relinquish or abandon it" when he waived his rights by agreeing to be imprisoned for life without parole.

John Allen Muhammad, Malvo's partner in the shootings, was executed in November 2009 in Virginia for his part in the crimes.

It is unclear when Malvo will be resentenced. For now, he'll remain in prison, his attorney told CNN.

"Lee will remain in jail, actually in prison, as he has a number of other sentences from Maryland," attorney Craig Cooley said. "His convictions in Virginia were not set aside, just the sentencings. I imagine the Virginia Attorney General's office will appeal the ruling.

"We believe that Judge Jackson's ruling is consistent with the mandates of the United States Supreme Court on these sentencing issues."